Pluto seems to be responsible for painting in red its largest moon, called Charon. NASA discovered it last year when they wanted to find out more about the smallest planet in our Solar System. Charon is a young and complex surface, that has a red spot in one of its polar regions, that looks like a festive cap. The space agency wanted to find out how this is possible.
Scientists think that the spot is the result of a transfer of material from Pluto to its moon. The planet has no gravity and this makes it easier to lose a lot of its atmosphere to space. If you did not know by now, Pluto has the red coloring from some particles named tholins, that can be found in the atmosphere. Charon could be able to catch some of those particles and this how the red spot appeared. However, more research needs to be done in future. Researchers are not sure if Charon can turn the has into tholin.
This could be possible because Pluto is so far from the sun that it is able to keep methane in its poles. When the spring is coming, the sun appears and that is the moment when the red spot can be seen. It seems that a transfer between Pluto and its moon, Charon, can be possible. If you think our winters are cold, you should see how they are on Pluto. Researchers said that the planet and its moon can have even -430 degrees Fahrenheit.
Will Grundy, the lead study author from Lowell Observatory, said that the particles are forming a thin coating of methane ice that is able to last until sunlight comes. The red spot appears due to ultraviolet radiations. Of course, there were million of years needed before enough particles have gathered. Even though NASA could have seen only the North Pole, the South Pole should be similar to it. When New Horizons flew by, the South part was covered in darkness, so the space agency was not able to see it.
Researchers compared Pluto to a graffiti artist. They are expecting more surprises from this planet. Charon is the biggest moon of Pluto and it could be connected in more ways that we think about it. Scientists are surprised to see how the laws of physics are used by the Universe to create wonderful landscapes.
Image source: Wikipedia